On Crazy Dog Ladies in Denial

With the advances of digital photography comes the curse of date stamps on photos. This curse reared its ugly head during a recent trip down memory lane.

 

Hector after his cherry eye surgery, December 31, 2006.
Hector after his cherry eye surgery, December 31, 2006. He came to us a foster dog about 2 weeks before.

 

We can’t remember how old Hector was at the time he moved in, but he was at least 2. For some reason I think he was estimated to be 3. Now let’s do the math: 2015-2006 = 9. 9+2 = 11. Hector is at least 11 years old. If my recollection is correct, however, he’s 12.

 

DASH! the day he met Crabby, January 8, 2008.
DASH! establishing some ground rules the day after he arrived, January 8, 2008.

DASH! never shared his age when he first graced us with his presence, but he was an adult. My recollection is the vet estimated him to be the generic ‘between 1 and 3’. Let’s do the math again:  2015-2008=7.    7+1 =8. DASH! is at least 8, but he could be as old as 11.

 

When the harsh reality hit, I lamented to Crabby that I thought The Boys were around 5 or 6 years old.  According to Crabby I’ve been saying that for years.

 

Somewhere along the way, as misfits moved in and others passed away, Hector and DASH!  not only got older, but became seniors.

 

I choose not to see seniors.  I choose to see My Boys as they truly are:

 

Hector, December 2014
Hector, December 2014

 

DASH! August 2014
DASH! August 2014

 

I have decided to stick to my claim that Hector and DASH! are around 5 and 6 years old, for now and for the foreseeable future.

 

My Most Favorite Video in the World for the New Followers!

We’ve had a recent spike in followers of late.   Seems like a great time to re-visit the Hector Gets His E-collar Off Video!

Hector’s surgery was back in February, but golly, this video never gets old!  For the record, the video was slowed to half speed…

 

Hector’s Stitches Are Out And He’s Off Restrictions!

Hector had his stitches removed on Thursday.

At the time, there was no indentation over the empty eye socket, said indentation being expected.

Today was Hector’s first time out in a month, free of restrictions, and we took him to a waterhole with 7 of his siblings.  He was quite pleased at the opportunity to be Hector again .

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Sorry about the picture quality.  This one is a freeze frame from a video as Hector was blasting by.
Sorry about the picture quality. This one is a freeze frame from a video as Hector was blasting by.

We noticed a little something strange about One Eye’d Happy Hector on the way home:  He now has an indentation over the empty eye socket.

It seems all that energy pent up during Hector’s restrictions had accumulated in his head.    As long as it was being stored – no indentation.  Now that he’s blown it off – indentation.

That’s our story and we’re sticking to it!

On Dog Supplements and Spa Treatments

Those of you who have been here a while know I went off the deep end last spring over Vito’s intestinal obstruction, and my subsequent research into commercial dog foods.  Since that time, I have cooked the meals for those dogs who ate soft food.  I remain a hypocrite in that while I shun the factory made soft foods, I still feed commercial kibble.  I assure you, if there were fewer than 13 dogs, or at least fewer that require medical maintenance for their special needs, kibble wouldn’t darken our doorway either.

Given the questionable digestibility and nutritional content of ANY dog food, and given the fact that I don’t scientifically calibrate every nutrient or calorie in my home-made foods, I thought it in my best interests to research supplements for those nutrients that could be lacking, or to improve the kids’ ability to digest what they consume.

Unfortunately, my distrust over commercially prepared foods has spilled over into the realm of commercially prepared supplements as well.  This means that the supplements I give the kids have to be derived from whole foods or whole ingredients.  Turns out, the best supplements for dogs also happen to be great ingredients for home spa treatments.  Who would have thunk?

To avoid subjecting the menfolk to ladies’ home spa treatments, I have written the girly stuff in pink.  Just skip over those parts if you aren’t interested.  The dog supplement information will be in black.

Apple Cider Vinegar has lots of trace elements often missing in commercial and homemade dog foods.  Additionally, it helps regulate pH in the digestive tract and helps with nutrient absorption.  There are claims that ACV also helps repel fleas, ticks and mosquitos, but there is no documented proof of this.

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ACV can be added to food or water, however, it has to be added very slowly, literally a drop at a time, getting your dog used to it gradually, until he can take it at a rate of 1 tablespoon per gallon of water.  Another way of adding this supplement would be to add a drop to your dog’s food.   For the record, when I say ‘drop’ I am referring to eye dropper drop.  Vinegar of all types is pretty powerful stuff.  A little dab will do ya.

Some dogs will never take to ACV.  Just be ever vigilant and make sure your dog doesn’t stop eating or drinking altogether when you add it.

As long as you’re supplementing your dog with ACV, why not correct your skin’s pH by diluting 1 teaspoon of ACV in a cup of water and using it as an astringent?  This mix is also the best and cheapest method of removing surface oils and makeup (except eye makeup, that is) without stripping your skin as well.

Got dandruff?  Use lots of hair goop to keep your doo?  ACV diluted 1 tablespoon per cup of water, left on for a minute or 2 will remove all build up, cleaning your hair and scalp down to what nature gave you.  Honestly, ACV is probably the best ‘shampoo’ you could possible use, and it leaves your hair bouncier and shinier than store-bought shampoos.

Papaya and Pineapple

Both papaya and pineapple contain enzymes that digest proteins.  Since we can never be completely sure of the quality of proteins in commercial dog foods, a little help digesting what proteins are available can only help insure our dogs get the maximum benefit from what they’re fed.

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pineappleMake sure to pick the greenest fruits as the enzymes start to diminish soon after ripening.  Actually, you have about a week before the digestive benefits start to decline.

You can either feed in chunks or stick them in a blender to make a smoothie.  Use one or use both, the results are the same.

I stick a dinner spoon sized blob (smoothie) in the larger dog’s bowls, and half that amount in the smaller ones, twice a day.  I haven’t found anything in the literature that says you can overfeed these protein enzyme powerhouses.  At the same time, they are only supplements, so feed in moderation.

While most of the kids at Run A Muck Ranch went right to the papaya, none liked the pineapple at first.  I started blending the 2 together in smoothies and pretty soon they would take either, well, all except DASH! that is, but he’s a whole other battle altogether…

But wait you say!  My dog couldn’t possibly eat an entire papaya or pineapple in a  week!  No worries!  While you’re cutting up the fruit(s) or scooping out a smoothie for your dog, slather some on your face and neck.  Remember, both digest proteins!  What exactly are dead skin cells made up of?

You can pay a fortune for spa quality chemical exfoliants, or you can do it cheaper and safer at home with the facial wonder fruits.  With repeated use, papaya not only exfoliates and accelerates skin cell turnover, but reduces dark spots.  Pineapple evens skin tone and has a slight bleaching effect – bonus for those of us with blotchy skin.

Years ago, when we only had a few dogs, and by a few, I think it was only 6, and I actually had time to comb my hair, I used my ‘fruit smoothies’ regularly and religiously.  One of my snowbird clients (only here from November to May) returned one fall and made the comment that I had a new face.  It wasn’t from spa treatments, it was papaya.

I hadn’t done it regularly for several years, but then I was surprised to find out that papaya was a great supplement for the dogs.  Now, just before I scoop the smoothies into the kids bowl, I slather it on.  I’m already starting to see a difference.

Egg Shell Powder is one of the most natural and digestible forms of calcium available.  When feeding home-made foods, balancing your calcium to phosphorus correctly can be difficult.  Meats usually supply sufficient phosphorus, but if calcium is lacking, phosphorous can’t do it’s job.

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Every time you make eggs, save the shells.  Freeze them until you have about a dozen.  Spread the shells on a cookie sheet and bake at 200 degrees for 2 hours (or if you have a dehydrator, go at 160 degrees for 3 hours).  Once the shells have been dehydrated, break out the coffee grinder and grind the shells until they are a fine powder.  DO NOT MAKE THE SAME MISTAKE I DID!  Don’t get the freshly ground shells too close to your nose or you will be sneezing for hours!  Once the dust settles there’s no problem, but just out of the grinder, beware!

Sprinkle over dog food (1/4 teaspoon for small, 1/2 teaspoon for medium, 1 teaspoon for large dogs) and you have your calcium requirements for the day.

Hey, if you want to pay a fortune for dermabrasion, feel free, however, you can get the very same effect using eggshell powder.  The sensitivity of your skin will determine how much powder to use.  Put a little in your hand, add a little water to make it less powdery, and start scrubbing (how hard you scrub also depends on skin sensitivity).  It takes a little practice to get the water to powder ratio correct, but once you get it, I guarantee you will feel a difference in your skin the very first time you use it.

Every one knows about the wonderful probiotic power of Yogurt.  It’s not just good for humans, dogs can reap the benefits as well.  Just be sure to use plain, unflavored yogurt, and make sure it contains live yogurt cultures.  It appears there are as many opinions as to how much to feed a dog as there are people who have written books.  I have resorted to scooping ‘a little’ into the small dogs’ bowls, and  around a 1/2 cup into the larger dogs’ bowls, once a day.  Yogurt has the same lactic acid contained in milk, and like people some dogs can be lactose intolerant, so start with a smidge and work up depending on how your dog reacts.

Since he’s been on yogurt, though Slugger remains gassy (It’s part of Slugger being Slugger), he isn’t as toxic as he was before.  If I miss a few days, pity the person standing in Slugger’s vicinity when he goes off…

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Especially for those with sensitive skin, Yogurt is a gentle exfoliant with some bleaching properties.  Additionally, if you went a little too heavy with the pineapple, papaya or egg-shell powder, and are left with irritated skin (or even if you have sunburn….), Yogurt will make things right.   Just slather it on and your skin shall be soothed.  The fats in yogurt, even those in low-fat yogurt, are most excellent moisturizers for dry skin as well.  Try to find a moisturizing exfoliant on the store shelves…  you won’t find one.  A word of warning, however, where you can wander about with a face smeared with papaya or pineapple, yogurt gets a little drippy, so sit still until you are ready to rinse it off. 

These are just a few of the gems I have come up with so far.  I’m still researching nutrition and supplements for the dogs, and who knows, maybe I’ll find a dog supplement that will clean house or do laundry in the future.  What I’d really like is one that does foot rubs…

Crazy Dog Lady: How do you train 13 dogs?

This one comes from a FB private message,  and it has an easy answer:  We don’t.

It is physically impossible for 2 mere humans to work full time jobs, maintain a home, care for 2 special needs horses and 13 dogs, some of them special needs, AND have time to train said dogs!

And yet…  Of the people who borrow our kids on a regular basis, this is the feedback we get:

One finds our dogs more loving and sociable than her own  dog.

Another wants a dog, but wants one ‘just like’ ours, and by “ours”, she means ANY of the kids she borrows.

Yet another found Morty to be better behaved than her own, similarly sized Idiot.

Feedback from previously placed fosters was similar.

Believe it or not, the only reason Franky, Emmi, Gracie, Angus, Vito and Sarah can’t be certified as therapy dogs is because they live in a house where if food falls on the floor, it’s theirs.  Therapy dogs are supposed to be polite and leave it.

Well behaved (at least at other people’s homes), easy to walk, very sociable, mostly gentle, cuddly to anyone without being overbearing, and lest we forget, a blast to be around.

What is our “Amazing Method” that can bring so many misfits from such varied backgrounds, thrown together in a single heap, and have every last one of them be considered so well-mannered in public?

I have no clue what to tell you.  Honestly.    Bet you never saw that coming, did you?

My most favorite picture in the world, Christmas day, 2011.  If you count all the dogs, you will find 11.  Once has since passed, and 3 more have joined the family.  A family that plays together often, stays together, without leashes.  It doesn't hurt that we live in an area with plenty of open space to do this.  I think a walk with 13 is in order for Christmas 2013!
My most favorite picture in the world, Christmas day, 2011. If you count all the dogs, you will find 11. One has since passed, and 3 more have joined the family. A family that plays together often, stays together, without leashes. It doesn’t hurt that we live in an area with plenty of open space to do this. I think a picture of a walk with 13 is in order for Christmas 2013!

 

 

 

The Shark, The Sunny Fish and The Minnow

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Morty is obviously The Shark.  He’s big and I will never forget the day I saw him snatch a bird right out of the air – like the movie sharks.

Slugger, with his freakishly large, flat, flipper, clown feet is clearly part fish.  His disposition makes him a Sunny Fish as opposed to a Sun Fish.

And little protégé Marcy, obviously she’s The Minnow.   I thought Slugger loved water more than any dog possibly could.  Enter The Minnow.  She’s a serious water lover.

We, more particularly The Idiots,  are incredibly lucky this year to have had rain.  These pictures are taken at what amounts to retention basins dug in the desert to collect rain water for cows.  If you happen to have seen the Slugger Re-Birthday video, (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X8dpj0Wv3_g) at the 29 second mark, you will see Slugger running into the very same ‘water hole’ where this photo was taken, sans water.

Crazy Dog Lady, Why is William Medicated?

This one didn’t really come as a question.  It’s more a response to off-blog comments made by people who feel putting Willy on doggie Prozac is “cruel”.

The short answer to this question has 2 parts:  Willy is medicated because a) Crabby won’t medicate himself and b) I can’t find a doctor that will give me Prozac to sneak into Crabby’s food.

Kid you not, Crabby and Willy are twins, separated at birth.  They are both pig-headed, neither have ever been wrong a day in their lives, and both believe I am his property!

This was the first time Willy jumped up on the bed with Crabby.  At the time we thought it was 'progress'.  Later we learned it was a Brownie Point score to show me he was a bigger man than Crabby.  The 2 have settled into a diabolical and devious competition to see who gets my favor.  No one gets aggressive, and it's absolutely hysterical to watch.  Like I have said, for the first time in my life, I have 2 men fighting over me.  Bummer is, it's my husband and my dog.
This was the first time Willy jumped up on the bed with Crabby. At the time we thought it was ‘progress’. Later we learned it was a Brownie Point attempt to show me he was a bigger man than Crabby. The 2 have settled into a diabolical and devious competition to see who gets my favor. No one gets aggressive, and it’s absolutely hysterical to watch. Like I have said, for the first time in my life, I have 2 men fighting over me. Bummer is, it’s my husband and my dog.

Seriously, though, Willy has a history:  He came to us when he was 3 years old, never having had a real home or family, never having had the same pack for very long, and if you remember, he originally came from Afghanistan – not a good place for dogs even if there was no war, and before coming to the US, Willy lived in Pakistan for 13 months.

Poor kid, 3 years, 3 countries, and only 1 of those countries love dogs.  He really couldn’t be blamed for his dislike of men, his nightmares, his sudden and without warning freak outs, his episodes where he simply went off the deep end, and the list goes on.

We did try working with him, but there was a glitch:  Any hint of dominance toward Willy was met with defensive, not dominant, defensive, measures from Willy, which included teeth.  I had a trainer out at The Ranch once and her recommendation was to put him down.  She said he was dangerous.

Sweet William was never dangerous, he just needed guidance.
Sweet William was never dangerous, he just needed love, guidance and time.

Then came the day Willy drew blood on Crabby.  Training wasn’t working, medication was the next step, so we went to the vet.

The Fluoxetine (Prozac) doesn’t really change Willy, it just removes the peaks and valleys.  No more nightmares, no more ‘going off’, no more without warning freak outs.  We still had plenty of issues, but the extremes were gone.  Medicating Willy was never meant to be a cure, only a tool to be used in addition to training,  in what we already understood would be a long journey.

Almost a year after Willy came to live with us, it was discovered that prior dental issues were treated by simply filing the affected teeth down to the gum line, the roots and the exposed nerves remained.  This happened in either Afghanistan or Pakistan.  The vet only found them when she had Willy under anesthesia, on his back, under a bright light, looking in his mouth while treating other issues.  In a regular exam, it appeared the teeth were simply missing, so we didn’t know.  That doesn’t mean I still don’t feel a little guilty…

Willy awaiting surgery.  The little blue thing under his head is DASH!'s sweater, which I left with Willy so he could have something from home.  Pic provided by Daisy Mountain Animal Hospital.
Willy awaiting surgery, the same surgery where the remnant roots were discovered. The little blue thing under his head is DASH!’s sweater, which I left with him so he could have something from home. This picture actually rips at my heart a little.  Pic provided by Daisy Mountain Animal Hospital.

At that time, Willy was on 20mg Fluoxetine per day.  After the old roots were removed, there were drastic changes in Willy’s demeanor that could not have been attributed to his medication.  For that reason, and assuming many of Willy’s issues were unrecognized pain related, we tried to wean him from his Fluoxetine over the next 2 months.  About a month after being removed from the medication, some of William’s extremes returned, so he went back on it, but at 10mg per day.

Since that time, Willy continues to progress so we’re trying him at 5mg per day.

Next May, we will try to wean Willy again and see what happens.  If the extremes don’t return, he is off for good, if they do come back, he will go back on his Fluoxetine, only at the 5mg dose, and we try to wean him again the next year.

If we only had 2 or 3 dogs, I might have tried to work through the residual demons rather than putting Willy back on the Fluoxetine, but there are only so many hours in a day, and too many dogs that need attention in those hours.  I do continue to work with Willy, but I don’t feel it’s enough to help him without medicinal help, at least not yet.  We’re getting there though!  A part of me still believes I somehow failed Willy for having to medicate him to begin with, but as long as we keep our eye on the prize:  no medication, I feel a little better.

To those who believe medicating Willy is cruel, and unfortunately, I don’t think they actually read this blog, I say this:  Which is more cruel; medicating to get through the rough patches or messing further with an already troubled mind by rehoming?  Worse still, isn’t putting a ‘problem dog’ down even more cruel?  The goal is to get Willy OFF his meds, and happy and secure in his own skin, and it will happen.

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To those who may be reading this and thinking I am offering up a ‘cure’ for troubled dogs:  Think again.  Medication is not a cure, it’s only a temporary, emphasis on temporary, tool.  Without training at the same time, it’s pointless.   Even then, don’t mistake laziness on the part of the human  (not willing to work with the dog) as justification to medicate.  The ONLY reason we broke down and medicated Willy was because his behavior toward Crabby escalated to the point of biting.  Remember, Fluoxetine only smoothed out the extremes, we were left with plenty of problems to work through.   Without that work, Willy’s progress would not have been possible.